China Legislature to Vote on Anti-Terror Law Criticized by U.S.

  • Draft of law requires phone companies provide encryption keys
  • Chinese offical says U.S. has same laws, uses double standards

China’s legislature is scheduled to vote Sunday on a new anti-terrorism law that has drawn criticism from the U.S. government on concerns it could give Chinese authorities surveillance access to users of American technologies.

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress will meet to vote on the anti-terrorism law along with other resolutions, according to a schedule posted on the legislature’s website. The first draft of the law, published last year, requires phone companies and Internet providers to submit encryption keys, the passcodes that help protect data, to Chinese authorities, and keep equipment and local user data inside China.

U.S. President Barack Obama said in a March interview with Reuters such requirements would let China install “back doors” in U.S. technology companies’ systems, and the Asian nation will “have to change” such provisions to be able to do business with the U.S.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei defended the law on Wednesday, calling related clauses “completely reasonable” and dismissing concerns about privacy and intellectual property rights. He also cited similar requirements in U.S. laws that ask companies to provide technical assistance to investigators, and urged the U.S. to refrain from using “double standards.”

The accusation against China doesn’t help America “uphold its moral high ground,” the official Xinhua News Agency said in a commentary published Thursday without the name of an author. “On the contrary, it makes Uncle Sam look pugnacious and overbearing.”

President Xi Jinping, overseeing a campaign against rising terror in the country, in November denounced the first execution of a Chinese national by Islamic State and reaffirmed the country’s opposition to terrorism. Knife-wielding assailants killed 29 people at a train station in the southern city of Kunming in March last year. At least 50 people were killed after a group of men attacked a coal mine in China’s remote western region of Xinjiang, Radio Free Asia reported in October, citing local security officials.

— With assistance by Dingmin Zhang

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